Forget First Class. Charters Are Cheap Enough to Take a Private Plane.

Forget First Class. Charters Are Cheap Enough to Take a Private Plane.
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People are becoming more and more aware of the great benefits of flying charter jets as costs continue to drop. As the charter industry booms, companies are coming up with amazing new ways to create memorable experiences for their customers. Let's face it — we all want to fly on a private jet, but the belief that costs are prohibitively high is deeply ingrained in our brains.

This has made it hard for private flight companies to effectively market their services to a wider audience. Traditionally, private jets have been associated with the lives of the rich and famous. However, prices have become more accessible than ever, and I believe it is time for the private plane industry to start going for low-mid income range markets.

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One of the things that has not been sufficiently advertised is that, in many circumstances, prices do not differ much from upgrading to first-class seats on a regular commercial flight. Some air taxi companies are advertising group roundtrips that range between $450 and $900 per seat.

Moreover, flying private comes with unique advantages. For example, you do not have to go through the myriad of road blocks that plague air travel nowadays. Charter flights enjoy immensely better airport processing. We are not fans of having to arrive at the airport hours in advance to get in line and go through extensive security checks. Not to mention the ever-present possibility of being delayed or getting kicked off of your plane, even if you made it on time.

When you charter a private plane, you go straight from your car to the aircraft. The best part is that the plane waits for you, not the other way around.

As I combed the internet, I found an ever-growing charter flight industry. From those who offer really cheap flights in small propeller planes, to those who just find empty seats waiting for you to occupy them.

Of course, these affordable private airliners do not pamper their passengers the way they did with Jordan Belfort back in the day. But there are plenty of ways these companies make up for that. For example, Hopscotch Air is giving everyone something to talk about. They found a way to turn an often unpleasant experience — flying on a noisy and rattly propeller plane — into an exciting way to introduce passengers to the secrets of an aircraft cockpit.

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I have been following them closely and although they chose a playful name, they still market themselves as a “Limo in the Sky,” making it a tough sale for mere mortals like ourselves. But their small three-seat Cirrus planes offer something passengers want — dedicated attention. Users are literally inside the cockpit with the pilot, making it an opportunity to actually see what it's like to fly a plane. Pilots spend most of the flight talking to passengers about instruments and the aircraft. This is a new take on that old cab driver/psychotherapist tradition.

Charters are also getting people closer to destinations that are not covered by commercial airlines. Flying from the East Coast to the West Coast is one thing, but flying to locations like Cape Cod or other great vacation spots in Maine is something else. Driving there could take you days, depending on where you are in the U.S., and the nearest big airport could be hundreds of miles away, forcing you to add transportation and hotel expenses to an already expensive trip.

Charter flights get you closer to your destination and save you a lot of money in gas and car rentals. They fly to any of the thousands of small airports scattered throughout the region. You will always end up closer to your destination.

What’s best, the industry is drifting toward the convenience of on-demand services and touch screens. Just like the cab industry, there are now apps that could book you a seat on a private plane within seconds. Ubair and Blue Star Jets are two apps that have jumped into the Uber-bandwagon. You tell them where you are, where you want to go and when would you like to fly, and that's it. They let you know when your plane will be at the airport. They even let you choose from different aircraft so you can pick the most affordable option.

And there is another app that is rapidly claiming the king's place. The guys at JetSmarter envisioned something more than just on-demand private flights. They take advantage of empty-leg routes to make flights even more accessible for pedestrians.

The idea is really simple. Flying with 1 or 20 passengers costs the same in terms of operation and maintenance costs. Moreover, flights that are booked one way have to sometimes come back home empty, and that's a lot of money going down the drain for airlines or private jet owners.

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In a clever move, JetSmarter determined that letting people fly at any price is better than returning home with empty pockets. So their app focuses on these empty or half empty flights, and lets their users know when a seat is available. They bridge the needs of both customers — who are okay with sharing an airplane with people heading the same direction — and owners who want a hand with maintenance expenses.

These options have opened big doors to private jets and have slashed charter prices left and right. It is just a matter of time — with the right marketing approach — to start seeing people flocking to charter flights.

This does not mean that commercial airliners should be worried about losing ground. It just means that the convenience of private jets is becoming available for the general public, and we finally get the chance to experience how flying is meant to be.

Are we witnessing the dawn of a new era for air travel? I certainly hope so!

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